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2013 Winning Entries

Here are the winning entries from the 2012-2013 YRE USA competition, the inaugural year of the program. We congratulate these students and all who submitted entries! Thank you for dedicating time and energy to investigating environmental issues and sharing the information you uncovered in writing, photo, and video. This is vitally important work! To arrive at solutions to the environmental issues that affect our communities and our planet, the first step is to get high quality information about them out into the world.

The YRE USA Jury chose the following entries as those that best met the criteria for the competition and accomplished the goals of environmental journalism. To see helpful comments and suggestions from the jury, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.  

First place winners in the national competition also proceeded to the international competition. We are delighted to announce that  the video "A Tale of Two Trails" by Zachary Korff claimed a first place award in the video category in the international competition. Congratulations to Zachary! Find out more about his project in this interview on the National Wildlife Federation's blog.  


AGES 13-15

1st Prize:
"Emerald Ash Borer" by Eli Cason - Cuba Middle School, Cuba, MO
Honorable Mention: "Pollution on the Meramec River" by Colten Barrett, Katie Wolfe, and Grace Steiger - Cuba Middle School, Cuba, MO
Honorable Mention: "White Nose Syndrome" by Alyssa Hemby - Cuba Middle School, Cuba, MO

1st Prize:
"The Buzz on the Bees" by Lexi Rockwell - Kingdom Builders Co-op, Savannah, GA

1st Prize:
"A Tale of Two Trails" by Zachary Korff - Irving Middle School, Springfield, VA


AGES 16-18

1st Prize:
"Saving Energy Through Lighting" by Trey Zimmerman and Zach Major - Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, Edgewood, KY
2nd Prize: "Sustainability at ABRHS" by Denali Trimble, Dikshant Pradhan, and Kendall Butler - Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton, MA
3rd Prize: "Green Roof on the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology Edgewood Campus" Building by Zack Fries and Marquea Schwing - Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, Edgewood, KY

1st Prize:
"Pollinator" by Matthew Carras - Vermont Academy, Saxtons River, VT



"A Tale of Two Trails" (1st prize winner for video in the 13-15 years age category) was deemed by the jurors to be the best overall example of environmental journalism of all the entries received and thus worthy of special recognition.



Our talented jurors have a broad range of expertise in writing, photography, video, environmental issues, and environmental journalism. Their constructive criticism provides valuable information about how to craft an effective piece. We encourage participants in future YRE USA competitions to consider their suggestions as you work on your own entries.


All Media Types

  • The jurors looked for pieces that took interesting, important environmental topics and added a local angle through firsthand investigation. This can be accomplished by including interviews with people affected by the issue or working to solve it, or by asking for opinions from the public about the issue and what they think should be done. It can also include your own observations.
  • When you add context by including statistics or information from background research, it is essential to credit the source.
  • After making a strong case that something needs to be done about your issue, don't be afraid to make strong recommendations for solutions. You can report on your topic in a fair and balanced way and still state your opinion, as long as you clearly communicate that it's your opinion and back it up with facts.
  • Be sure it is obvious who your audience is. Is the information intended for the general public, or to convince a specific group of people of something?
  • Disseminating the work in your local community is one of the requirements of the competition. Be sure to explain how you shared the piece with your intended audience and, if applicable, any outcomes that resulted.   


  • In order to engage readers and ensure they end up with a strong understanding of the issue, it's important to organize your piece in a clear, logical way. Start with the main point and then support it with evidence. 
  • Be sure to define terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience. Avoid acronyms or jargon unless they add to readers' understanding of the topic and you explain them fully.
  • It is absolutely essential that your piece be written in your own words. If you gather information from other sources, you need to restate it. Copying phrases or whole sentences from other authors without putting their words in quotation marks and crediting them is plagiarism. It will result in disqualification from the competition.


  • An interesting, visually engaging, well composed photograph is, of course, key to a winning entry.
  • However, the caption is equally important. It should concisely explain the issue that you are conveying through your photo. Include relevant details and a local angle.
  • Moreover, the photo and the caption need to be directly connected. The photo should illustrate the point that the caption makes. 


  • This year's winning video got top marks as a fine example of informative, authentic, balanced, and creative reporting. Note how the filmmaker has direct experience with the issue, describes the problem from various perspectives, interviews stakeholders, and concludes with clear recommendations.


New YRE International Collaboration Opportunity

Group YRE 

New this year, youth can choose to collaborate and jointly submit an article in the Sustainable Consumption and Production category. Learn more.

Wildlife Photography